Agreement ensures voter education outreach and access
RIVERSIDE – Today, Inland Empire United and six county residents reached a settlement with Riverside County that will increase political access for historically underrepresented communities in the tenth most populous county in the U.S.
Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit last year to challenge the board of supervisors’ 2021 district map, arguing that the map did not give Latine voters equal opportunities to participate in the political process.
Plaintiffs and Riverside County agreed to resolve the lawsuit by having the county commit to dramatically strengthen voter outreach and education efforts. The county will provide Spanish translations of all notices, agendas, and minutes of board of supervisors meetings as well as live Spanish interpretation for all future board of supervisors meetings. Latines make up 52 percent of the population in Riverside, and 34.5 percent of Riverside residents speak Spanish at home.
“Despite the size of our Latine community, we’ve yet to fully ensure folks can see themselves in our local governing chambers,” said Sky Allen, executive director of Inland Empire United. “This settlement guarantees, for the first time, that our neighbors are welcome to participate as equals in future meetings and is a really meaningful step towards full representation of everyone who calls Riverside home.”
The Riverside County Registrar of Voters will also make available Spanish translations of all registrar of voters legally required public documents, including voter registration materials, materials related to the County Election Administration Plan, and all official notices and forms, and will provide live Spanish interpretation of registrar of voters public meetings and hearings.
The county has agreed to spend at least $1.75 per voter to fund voter outreach and education efforts in areas with low voter turnout during each contested supervisorial election from now through 2030. This voter outreach and education will be conducted in both English and Spanish, and is far more than the funding the county has spent on voter outreach and education efforts in past elections.
“Communities need information to fully participate in the democratic process, whether it is information about how to vote or about what the board will be discussing at a meeting,” said Julia Gomez, staff attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “While we are disappointed that the County did not adopt a new supervisorial map, this settlement opens more doors for our Latine community members in Riverside to participate in the future health and success of their home regions.”
In addition, the county has agreed that any redistricting of board of supervisors districts that occurs before 2030 will be done by an independent redistricting commission. While federal law currently requires the county to provide Spanish-language official ballots, election materials, and voting assistance, the settlement also requires the county to provide those Spanish-language voting materials through 2030, even if the applicable federal law were to no longer apply.
Representing Inland Empire United and six county residents was the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.
Both parties will work collaboratively to ensure that the voter education and outreach plan will be implemented before the 2024 election and each future contested supervisorial election.